If you're new to Lucia Berlin as I am then this is a treat but I read this after Manual for Cleaning Women and was slightly disappointed. Manual for Cleaning Women is as near perfect as writing gets in my view and has a visceral quality not quite so omnipresent in this book but having said that I would still recommend it. The themes and language are still there but in a mellower form.
Lucia Berlin's prose sneaks up on you and, with spare simple language, bowls you over. As with her two earlier collections from Black Sparrow, Berlin fills these stories with sad, yet inspiring characters living on or near the fringe of society. We get to see the lives of teachers and nurses, people we usually view only in the context of their work, up close and in alarming detail. Berlin is a joy to read.